Natchez Trace Parkway – AL
- DesignationAll-American Road (1996)
- Intrinsic QualitiesHistoric, Scenic
- LocationAL, MS, TN
- Length33 of 444 total miles
The Natchez Trace Parkway leads you 444 miles through three states and 10,000 years of North American history. This scenic parkway links Natchez, MS with Nashville, TN and crosses some of the most beautiful terrain in the states of Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee. The Parkway has been declared an All-American Road, and has been chosen as one of America’s 10 best biking roads. Open year-round for motorists, hikers and bikers, it and adjacent communities provide visitors the opportunity for an unhurried trip through time.
Story of the Byway
The Natchez Trace Parkway leads travelers 444 miles through three states and 10,000 years of North American history. Established as a National Park System unit in 1938, the Parkway commemorates the most significant highway of the Old Southwest. Centuries old, the Parkway bisected the traditional homelands of the Natchez, Chickasaw, and Choctaw nations. Today, it provides a near-continuous greenway from the Tennessee Appalachian foothills to the bluffs of the lower Mississippi River. Explore outdoor recreation, wildlife, and adjacent thriving communities.
The natural travel corridor that became the Natchez Trace dates back many centuries. It bisected the traditional homelands of the Natchez, Chickasaw, and Choctaw nations. As the United States expanded westward in the late 1700s and early 1800s, growing numbers of travelers tramped the rough trail into a clearly marked path. The" sunken" sections you can walk along today are clear signs of historic use. In 1801 President Thomas Jefferson designated the Trace a national postal road for the delivery of mail between Nashville and Natchez.
The Natchez Trace Parkway leads you 444 miles through three states and 10,000 years of North American history. This scenic Parkway links Natchez with Nashville and crosses some of the most beautiful terrains in Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee. The Parkway has been declared an All-American Road and has been chosen as one of America's 10 best biking roads. Open year-round for motorists, hikers, and bikers; it provides visitors the opportunity for an unhurried trip through time.
Established as a National Park System unit in 1938 and officially completed in 2005, the Parkway is currently headquartered in Tupelo, Mississippi. It continues to be maintained and administered by NPS. The Natchez Trace commemorates the most significant highway of the Old Southwest. Gen. Andrew Jackson, Jefferson Davis, James Audubon, Meriwether Lewis (who died on the Trace in 1809), and Ulysses S. Grant are among the famous Americans to have traveled the Natchez Trace. Most travelers were anonymous working folks. In the early 1800s through the mid-1820s, "Kaintucks" from the Ohio River Valley floated cash crops, livestock, and other materials down the Mississippi River on wooden flatboats. They sold their goods at Natchez or New Orleans, sold their boats for lumber, and walked or rode horseback toward home via the Old Trace. As the road was improved, stands (inns) provided lodging, food, and drink to Trace travelers.
Today the Natchez Trace provides a near-continuous greenway from the southern Appalachian foothills of Tennessee to the bluffs of the lower Mississippi River. Along the way are sites like Emerald Mound, a national historic landmark and one of the largest American Indian mounds in the United States, and Mount Locust, one of only two surviving stands.
The Natchez Trace also crosses four ecosystems and eight major watersheds and provides habitat for nearly 1,500 species of plants, 33 mammal species, 134 bird species, and 70 species of reptiles and amphibians. Also designated as a National Scenic Byway and All-American Road, the Parkway encourages modern travelers to experience historic and scenic landscapes at a leisurely pace.
Visitors will follow the Natchez Trace Parkway southwest of Nashville Tennesee into Alabama. Visitors will cross the Tennessee River and pass west of Cherokee, AL before continuing southwest into Mississippi. Visitors will have many opportunities to stop at historic sites, national parks, and scenic overlooks as they drive along the byway.
Points of Interest
Alabama Music Hall of Fame
Discover the outstanding achievements and music of Alabamians at this state museum such as W.C. Handy, Sam Phillips, and Percy Sledge.
Riverfront Park boasts one mile of inviting shoreline on Pickwick Lake. Visitors can enjoy a boat launch, fishing piers, docking facilities, picknicking, walking trails, splash pad, playground, and restrooms.
Frank Llyod Wright Rosenbaum Museum
A genuine work of art—from the floors to the furnishings to the faucets—the Rosenbaum House grows naturally from its surroundings, cascading down a 2-acre lot facing the Tennessee River.
Arts and Music in Alabama
Start at the Bear Creek Mound on the Mississippi/Alabama Border and head northeast on the Natchez Trace Parkway. Make a quick stop to see the Freedom Hills overlook. Turn right to head east on U.S. Route 72 and Alabama Route 2, also known as Langston Boulevard. While this will take you off the byway, it will give you the chance to see some true Alabama culture.
Follow Langston Boulevard past Cherokee to Muscle Shoals. There is something for everyone in Muscle Shoals. Visit the Wilson Lock and Dam or go golfing. Stop by some of the local farms that showcase their fresh fruits and vegetables. Make a stop at the FAME Recording Studios, Inc, the first successful professional recording studio in Alabama, or take a driving or walking tour to get a better sense of the area’s history and culture.
It’s a short drive to Sheffield, the next town over. Be sure to stop at one of the many studios and studio museums for a taste of the local music. This area is full of fun parks for families of all ages. While Riverfront Park is great for exciting recreation activities, Whippoorwill Park is a wonderful bird sanctuary. Unique sites to this area include Village One, Ritz Theatre, Tom’s Wall and the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio.
Your final city on this detour is Florence. Florence is full of fun for those of all ages. The city has many museums (including a children’s museum) that showcase the art of the area. Take the time to visit a local theater or music performance. Follow State Route 29 back up to the Natchez Trace Parkway before heading up to the Tennessee/Alabama border.
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